Doing more with less: A third of employers are increasing overtime

One in three (33 percent) New Zealand employers report that their employees are clocking up increasing amounts of overtime, according to the 2014 Hays Salary Guide.

Out now, the Guide shows that only six percent of employers managed to reduce overtime over the last year (less than the 11 percent in Australia), with 61 percent (58 percent in Australia) saying that the level of overtime or extra hours being performed inside their organisation had continued but had not increased.

Of those employers who had seen levels rise, four percent said they had increased overtime by up to five hours per week. For 33 percent overtime had risen by five to 10 hours per week. A further 10 percent reported that overtime was up by more than 10 hours a week, while at year-end this figure jumped to 35 percent. 57 percent of employers (65 percent in Australia) said overtime was unpaid in their organisation.

“This supports an emerging trend that we’re seeing across the jobs market; the desire from employers to do more with less,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand.

“When we surveyed employers as part of our Hays Salary Guide, a massive 79 percent said they expect their levels of business activity to increase in the year ahead, and a similar number (70 percent) have already seen an increase in business activity.

“To cope with this increase, it seems that many are increasing the workloads of existing staff.  But pressure to increase productivity without increasing headcount has the potential to cause workplace stress and employee burnout, which will cost a lot more in the long run.

“There could be a very good business case for adding permanent headcount or using a temporary staffing solution instead. We advise employers to monitor absenteeism and attrition rates so they’re aware of what overtime really costs,” he said.

To manage employee engagement during sustained periods of increased overtime, Hays has these tips for employers:

  • Actively monitor the amount of overtime being performed and by which team members;
  • Also monitor absenteeism and general employee wellbeing;
  • Consider adding permanent headcount to increase productivity and reduce the risk of existing employees leaving;
  • Or use temporary staff to relieve pressure on overtime hot spots;
  • Encourage managers to use regular feedback and both paid and unpaid rewards to recognise those employees putting in the extra time;
  • Monitor business activity so staff can be given time off in lieu where possible.


The Hays Salary Guideshows salary and recruiting trends for over 1,000 roles in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. It is based on a survey of over 433 New Zealand  employers as well as placements made by Hays.

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